Monday, March 25, 2019

Homeschool European Geography: Zooming In On Ukraine

I haven't written much about our European Geography study, but I assure you that we have been steadily working on it for several months now.

Our spine for European Geography is Draw Europe, supplemented with lots of fiction and non-fiction, YouTube and DVDs, hands-on activities, live radio...

...and an international snacks subscription box that I bought for Will's last birthday! I bought her a year's subscription to Universal Yums, and it has been SO FUN. Each month she gets a box from a different country, and when her box if from a European country we treat it as a bonus chance to dive deep into that country.

This month's Yum Box was from Ukraine:

Here are some of the snacks that she received:

Ukraine is VERY into potatoes.
These boxes are a LOT of fun for adventurous eaters, and they're how I know that I super love smoked plum candy. NOM!

Anyway, although we've already covered Ukraine in our study, spring is an especially good time to revisit the country, because one of the traditionally Ukrainian crafts is the making of pysanky eggs for Easter. We don't make pysanky eggs every single year, but it is a surprisingly accessible kid craft, and I do recommend it. Don't they turn out cool?

Here are some other great projects to add into your study:
  • Print, color, and label a map of Ukraine. We use the free Owl and Mouse maps for all of our geography studies--I love them SO MUCH because you can print them up to several feet across. Color and label the printouts, or use them as templates to make salt dough or cookie maps
  • Print and color Ukraine's flag. The kids really loved coloring flags when they were early elementary, but even now, we still get out the pin flags and maps sometimes. 
  • Make and memorize fact flash cards. Even if you're focusing on history, politics, or culture, it is useful to have some basic facts memorized. I like the templates here because kids learn more when they have to research the facts themselves.
  • Learn a little of the language. Some languages have fun flash cards that are easily found via Google search, but I didn't have a lot of luck with Ukrainian. Nevertheless, one or two lessons through Mango Languages is enough to give a kid a glimpse at what speaking Ukrainian is like--it will at least teach them how to say hello!
  • Read about Chernobyl. This is a good way to get a science-focused kid interested in geography. Here, for example, is a quite readable explanation both of nuclear fission and the chain of events that led to the Chernobyl accident.
  • Study Sevastopol. There were important sieges there during both the Crimean War and World War 2--which gives you opportunities to also delve into studying both of those wars, too.
  • Listen to Ukrainian music. We like CDs of folk music from the library, but currently our favorite ways to experience a country's music are by streaming live, local radio stations on Radio Garden and by searching the playlists on Spotify--seriously, don't you want to listen to Ukrainian rap?
When the kids and I are searching YouTube for resources on a country, we always look for Geography Now, Eurovision, and Rick Steves videos. Geography Now and Rick Steves haven't covered Ukraine yet, alas, but Ukraine does participate in Eurovision, and they have some great performances. This one is our favorite, sort of because of the costumes and the dancing, but mostly because the lead singer has the best hair EVER, and every time we watch this video we mostly just spend the time talking about how nice her hair is and wondering how she got it so nice and shiny and tangle-free:

It's REALLY nice hair, right?

Although we didn't find many YouTube resources on Ukraine (please let me know if there's something that you love that we should know about!), we found loads and loads and LOADS of great books. I'm extra happy that Will's Yum Box led us to this review, because there are so many good books that we didn't get nearly through them the first time:

Now that we've experienced a few snacks from Ukraine, I'm longing to hit up the giant international grocery up in Indianapolis to see if they have any of our favorites, or something new to try. 

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